Updated: Nov 22, 2020
The relationship between Science and religion has seen it's fair share of ups and downs and as new evolutionary and cosmic theories surface we humans are confronted with an age-old dilemma, the conflict between religion and science. Interestingly enough, the battle rages on even today when the boundaries have shrunk and the society aims to look at faith and science with a broader perspective, the walls are still high and the two worldviews still compete to defy one and another. Well, this article here is not an attempt to enforce any particular belief, it purely aims to discuss this eternal argument and comprehend how this rift has prevailed. Neither this is an attempt to question or study any religion. Where did it all begin? God is an entity constructed on different notions, beliefs and covers an enormous range of ideas. For some, it's a pale white-skinned man pulling the strings behind everything wrong and good and for some, he is a crowned deity- the ultimate creator, others believe the "Allah" created the world in six days and sent prophets and many more such fascinating ideologies from various religions. Now clearly, the belief system is quite varied across religions and each renders a unique mythological fable. But, if you probe intently, faith identifies God as the answer to the most mysteries we have around us. The creation of the universe, the extinction of dinosaurs millions of years ago, Karma, the concept of heaven and hell, creation and evolution- the list goes on endlessly. With theological advancements, it is hard to advocate for religion these days, the faith shared among the common population is weak and is more susceptible to atheism. The very clear problems with religion and it's flag bearers, which has pushed the intellectuals further away from religion are valid and worth questioning- abuse by the priests, rigidity towards secularism, conversions, jihad etc. Undoubtedly, no religion is perfect but does that mean we do not need religion? In my personal opinion, even though, flawed, we still need it, of course in a sensible way. It might not always be the most rational approach but helps our human brain to think beyond facts, believe in things with no proof and at the same time calms fear, rekindles hope and keeps the heart hinged.
“Finally, I would like to assure my many Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim friends that I am sincerely happy that the religion which Chance has given you has contributed to your peace of mind (and often, as Western medical science now reluctantly admits, to your physical well-being). Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is the best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future.” ― Arthur C. Clarke, 3001: The Final Odyssey
What does science say about religion?
Science and rational thinking have often been labeled as atheism. There maybe intersections where scientific engagement may have paradoxical effects on belief in God. But in my opinion paradoxes should be your friend, we don't need labels like 'atheist' as it creates an ideological rift. If we don't believe in a creator or creationism in general that shouldn't make us an atheist. Science should not be arrogant and speculations of any degree should not be appreciated, science doesn't know how the universe was born and that's okay. We have a proposed theory of the Big Bang which does provide answers but we aren't sure what existed before that, and we should accept this fact as is.
What science often argues is that religion should not claim to know all the answers in the name of faith and push esoteric mystical propaganda. As Galileo famously said, "The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go." Faith is a belief in the absence of evidence and random possibilities often deceive us to deduce purpose or reasons when there's none. Even when science does not have proof, it relies heavenly on theories culminated after persistent testing and observation. It's more dependent on sight than insight. Of course, it will be erroneous to say that religion has got it all wrong, religions have exhibited rational reasoning when modern science did not even exist. God might be an ultimate explanation to some but science believes in practicality without referring to religion- a methodological approach. This approach treats mystical theories as penultimate explanations to questions that are still unanswerable. Consequently, scientific perspective tells you to be okay with not knowing everything and that's beautiful. People often point out the gaping holes in the fabric of science- the unresolved mysteries. But this is what essentially acts as the fuel and keep the science spurring and alleviate science's expansion. Can science and religion co-exist?
The answer is yes, even though a lot of noise is primarily sourced from threatening the harmony between the two ideologies. Science and religion do work well in conjunction and prepare a fertile land for numerous discoveries. It needs to be understood that both science and religion oversee two very different aspects of our life. Scientists are often known to have faith in a superior power and do not aim to challenge any religious belief in any capacity. The aim is to build a better future for mankind by picking up the pieces from the past, and if we ever have to borrow a piece or two from the other side of the fence, well, so be it. If the same goal is shared by the two realms, compartmentalization is not necessary.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them. He would not require us to deny sense and reason in physical matters which are set before our eyes and minds by direct experience or necessary demonstrations."- Galileo
Lastly, I cannot help but wonder if Earth was created by God and then left in midst of building it at our disposal.
Additional information- Einstein's letter about god: translated version
EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955). Autograph letter signed (“A. Einstein”) to Eric Gutkind, Princeton, 3 January 1954.